Cape to Cape Trail
Start - Hamelin Bay Holiday Park
Finish - Contos Campground
Length - 22.00km
Time Taken - 6hrs 00mins
Date - 28th of October, 2014
After a lengthy first day on the Cape to Cape I could afford to sleep in and take my time before setting off for the planned 22km. After a gourmet breakfast of muesli and powdered milk I packed up my things, crammed my tent back into its carrier and went off to Reception to grab a drink (I realised 4 x 600mL water bottles weren't going to cut it on the warmer days). After a chat with Melissa from Hamelin Bay (I work in the same office as her daughter) and thanking her for the nights’ accommodation, I headed down to the old jetty to see if I could spot a stingray or two.
Unfortunately there was no sign of the gentle winged giants so I set off on the 7km stretch along Hamelin Beach. The sky was a deep blue and the sun was in full force as I marvelled at the postcard perfect scene in front of me. The classic white sandy beaches contrasted against the perfect turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean made me forget about the 20km pack I was lugging around. Unlike Deepdene Beach, this stretch had long sections of hard sand so I made the most of it and ditched my shoes so I could dip my blistered feet in the cool surf.
The beach was a hive of activity compared to the empty scenes of yesterday with joggers, tourists, surfers and other Cape to Capers (unfortunately going the other way and with much lighter packs). This was by far the more enjoyable sections of the Cape to Cape and I plan on returning to Hamelin Bay for a holiday one summer as it really is a piece of paradise in the South West. Quiet & pristine beaches, great views and enough to explore to keep you busy for a week.
As I made my way to the northern end of the beach I was looking for the path that leads up to the 4x4 track that takes you inland to Boranup Hill Lookout. I stopped for a rest under what I thought was the path, a very steep incline up a dune that many people were using to get down to the beach. After a kind surfer offered to refill one of my drink bottles I made my way up the steep incline to the dirt car park above the dunes. The next section was a gradual uphill and about half way up a 4x4 stopped next to me.
The man inside asked if I was doing the Cape to Cape (backpack must have given it away) and then proceeded to introduce himself as the local ranger and tell me that I was on the wrong road and should have kept going along the beach. This isn't what I wanted to hear given I would have to make my way back down the hill and then climb up another dune and 4x4 track.
I got out the guidebook and together we found an alternate route that wouldn't add any distance to my day. The one thing about doing the Cape to Cape northbound is the guidebook caters for those doing it southbound so trying to find certain entry/exit points along the trail when it isn't clearly marked can be a challenge. After a few kilometres of sandy & forgettable 4x4 track I was back on the proper trail and continued on my way to the lookout (193m). As the trail headed inland I got my first taste of the forest after a day and a half of coastal views and it made for a pleasant change.
The taller trees dropped the temperature down a bit and with the increased heat compared to the previous day this was a welcome relief. The trail was still heading up but was gradual enough that it wasn't too much of a challenge. The lookout is actually off the trail and involves a last (steep) climb up to the summit. The view from the lookout was amazing and one other benefit of being up so high was I finally had mobile reception! The lunch stop sitting underneath the lookout (it was hot) with some trail mix and conversation with the girlfriend and family was a nice way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.
The next section of the trail is a lovely downhill/flat section on 4x4 tracks through thick Karri forest. This was the type of scenery I was used to and it reminded me of the Bibbulmun Track. Surprisingly this section was the first time I spotted a snake on the trail. It was a quick sighting as it soon darted off into the scrub. With the cooler temperatures of the forest the hiking was a little easier but given I had plenty of time to reach the campsite I stopped frequently to take a load off my feet and take in some water (it was still pretty hot).
To make the last 6kms go quicker I got the phone out and put some music on. A luxury I would have on my day hikes, it certainly makes a difference after a couple of days of relative silence. Carefully checking the map to make sure I didn't miss the turns, I soon came across Point Road Campground. Located only 1km away from Contos Campground (but down a big hill) I assume this is an overflow campsite or for those wanting a bit more peace and quiet.
Nestled in the forest it was empty when I passed through but given I would have to add the extra 1km to the next day if I wanted to camp here I moved on and started the final stretch to Contos. Getting to Contos requires scaling one final sandy 4x4 track up a hill and then you are home free for the day. Don't forget to look back from the top as the view back down the hill almost makes up for the struggle to get up there.
A little further on is the Contos Campsite sign so follow that (the other path leading to the left is the trail continuing on to the cliffs above Contos Beach) and make your way to the rangers station (head north and ask for directions as it isn't well signed). Camping is $7/night and if the office isn't open then there is an envelope system to pay your fee. I chose the camping area on the south side of the grounds (where you enter from the trail) and went about setting up my tent and refilling my water bottles.
It is recommended that you boil or treat the water as it comes from a big tank and not the regular pipe system you get at home. With my tent setup it was time for another serving of brown rice. As I discovered the previous night, the fuel tablets on my little portable stove do not last long so I spent a good half hour scrambling round the fireplace sourcing twigs and small sticks to keep my small fire hot enough to cook my rice. It wasn't an easy task but in the end my rice was cooked (sort of) and I even had enough fire to boil water for a cup of tea. I didn't have enough time due to dinner taking a little bit longer than expected but if you can make sure you head off to the cliffs above Contos Beach to catch the sunset. It's a short walk (1-2km) from the campground and would be spectacular. I spent the rest of my waking hours doing a little reading before nodding off to the sound of some grey nomads chatting around the campfire.